When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So, he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Matthew 2:13-14 NIV
Come with me from Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel. Follow the shepherds to Bethlehem, the city of bread. If we hurry, we can catch up with them. See the hoof prints of a donkey in the dust, almost covered, leading away toward Egypt. If you follow them, you will find them. A man leading a donkey, with a mother and her young son on her lap. His eyes attentive yet His mouth not yet able to speak.
This here is Jesus the Son of God, fleeing for His life to Egypt where His ancestors had been slaves.
Here is the Lamb of God who will take the away the sins of the world, fleeing for His life into exile. He has no entourage, no soldiers to protect Him. His parents are poor and lowly, His mother a teenager herself. There is nothing to protect Him, to keep Him in the land that He was called. He who has already come a long way is now placed upon the road to a land that does not love His people. He goes into exile, away from His people into the land of Egypt.
Yet out of all those forced to leave their homes to save their lives He chose this. Out of all the children of the world He Himself submitted knowingly to this. He chose to give up His place of Glory and Honor that was always His in heaven, the worship of angels and adoration of all creation to become us. Not like us but actually us. A human being.
He chose to come like we all come, from the womb of His mother. He chose to be human in every way. Fully God and Fully Man sits with His mother on that donkey, fully in control and yet fully in submission to His Father.
He did not come with trumpet blasts or with the proclamations of men. His bed was not made of the finest furs and His clothes the softest silk. Gold, silver, and jewels did not wink from His crib, cared for His every need and desire by a multitude of servants. The witnesses of His birth were animals, His bed their feed trough. The same swaddling clothes the firstborn male lambs were given in preparation for sacrifice in the temple were His first clothes, binding Him as they did the lambs so they would not harm themselves, and therefore be disqualified for sacrifice. For only those without blemish were chosen, perfectly white.
Those first told of His birth were lowly shepherds who the angels proclaimed in the middle of the night. Only now as a toddler three wise men, kings of the east came to honor Him with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold in honor of His Kingship, frankincense in honor of His High Priest status and myrrh foreshadowing His sacrifice on our behalf. Yet just after this elevation of truth, just after their lordly guests have left, Joseph is told by an angel they must leave, hurriedly, quickly in the night to save His life from the paranoia fear and jealousy of Herod, the false king of Israel.
For the true king of Israel is leading the donkey, the blood of King David runs through Joseph’s veins, as well as Mary Jesus’s mother. Yet they are both lowly, poor, and destitute. The lowest of the low. Their community has turned their back on them, for though His mother conceived and gave birth to Him in complete purity though the Holy Spirit that was not the perception the community had of this situation. Who ever heard of a virgin giving birth? It’s impossible! So, His mother was shamed for being pregnant out of wedlock, and His adopted father shamed for taking her under his wing. How the gossip tongued must have wagged at them saying that Joseph had taken his rights as husband before the wedding.
What they spoke of was just speculation, just rumors and malice. Yet because of this His mother was unclean in their eyes and therefore all doors were closed to them, none supporting His birth. A lonely cave that shepherds used, and animals were kept was His birthing place.
Already He has been given shame and reproach for nothing He has done, and His parents unjustly accused. For it was their holiness and purity that chose them to be the mother and adopted father of Him who holds up the very foundations of the world. Yet the jealousy and perceptions of their community judged them wicked and profane. How many times when the Lord does something new to those close to us it is easier to judge it as evil than the good the Lord is doing.
So there goes Jesus the Son of God into exile, following the trail that His forefathers took to escape Egypt. He now goes back to save His life, completely submitting to the Father’s will. For the prophets spoke that out of Egypt God the Father would call His Son. So, the Son must go into exile to be called out of it. He must go to be in the place of foreigners with different culture and beliefs. He must be ripped out of everything familiar and placed where more shame and slander can be poured out on Him. For when do exiles are given a place at a table of culture in a foreign land? They are the lowest of the low, grudgingly given house room. Used to fulfill tasks the country’s natives would see beneath them. Vulnerable to theft and deceit, for though the land may have laws and protections for all living there the financial means and/or the knowledge regarding that defence is low. For a person coming with only the clothes on their backs to a new land, culture and language has very little to defend themselves against those who have lived there for generations.
It is through this Jesus makes Himself available to all of us. For by Jesus being born of a virgin He showed that every child is valuable, important, and precious, even those in the womb of young teenage girls.
For Jesus being born in a stable was an invitation to the entire human race to come to Him. Not one would be rejected because of their place or station of this world. For Jesus came at the lowest place, the place where every door was shut against Him. He was born in that place so that everyone can come. He became the great equalizer of all our differences.
He Himself is living what will become the great sermon called the beatitudes. He will speak to His people about thirty years later. He became poor in spirit for us. He chose to mourn with us and become the meek. He chose to hunger and thirst and to show mercy. He chose to be persecuted because of righteousness. All this He chose to be the bottom of all ladders so that all of us would know that all are accepted, all are loved, and all are chosen. He will not reject the smoldering wick or bruised reed. He has room for all.
In this He is showing that those who have no place to lay their head. Those who have lost everything, He is there, He understands, and He is for us. We are not alone. He was tempted just like we were and dealt with all that humanity goes through yet did not sin. He understands our frailty and weakness. His knowing that we are only dust allows His compassion to flow toward us. This is why He is our great High Priest who understands and sacrifices Himself on the altar to save us.
Going to Egypt is in submission of the Father, for the prophets spoke that out of Egypt God would call His son. In this God the Father prescribed this suffering to Jesus and His parents. The struggles and pain that we deal with in our lives could not be because we have done anything wrong. Jesus did nothing wrong and yet this is happening to Him. Sometimes God the Father prescribes suffering, and usually to those most devoted to Him. He tests us to see our devotion and Love for Him through the suffering, the loss, the struggle, the silence. He molds and cleans out our sinful bents through the suffering fire. It’s also what helps us join with Jesus for He called those who love Him to pick up their crosses and follow Him. Those who would share in His Glory must first share in His sufferings.
Yet the sacrifice and struggle to go to Egypt was met with the promise that He would be called back to the land of Israel, and it was so. The promise given to Jesus by the Father, that the laying down His life would not be the end, but the beginning starting with His Resurrection on the third day was fulfilled.
For all that God asks us to place on the altar to be consumed He gives back more than we can ask or imagine. He promises that He is with us through the struggles, that He will sustain us despite all the world against us and the darkness trying to snuff us out. What God had started in us He will complete in fullness. We have the promise that though Jesus went through great hardship, pain, sorrow, and sacrifice by following in His footsteps we will also share in His great Glory for eternity. God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit will see us through.
The sacrifice of Christ culminated at the cross, but the sacrifice of Himself for us was given the moment He placed Himself into His mother’s womb. So let us follow our King, Lord, High Priest, and Saviour Jesus down the path the He calls us. The one who chose to become a slave for our sake as He follows His Father’s will into exile. For our sakes, in love for us, He follows our human hard road to let us know that all of us have a place at His table and He understand and longs for all of us. Nothing can separate us from the Love of Christ, except our own choice to reject Him.
To get to know Jesus more you can read about Him in the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible. To find The flight to Egypt it is in Matthew 2:13-19.